Do you ever fall for the urban myths and guru-advice that surround the world of writing? Do you ever struggle with the idea of getting started on your book, putting it off until ‘one day’ when you’re ‘ready’? Then it’s time to do some myth busting.
If you have ever fallen prey to what ‘they’ say we should do or must have before we write our world-changing, business-growing books, these five myth-busting messages are for you!
Myth #1: You Need A Title
Before you write your book, you need to know what it will be called. Apparently this helps you to focus and somehow motivates you.Non-fiction book myth #1: You need a title before you start writing. Fact: You don't need the title. You need to know the book's compelling promise. Click To Tweet
Title schmitle, as far as I’m concerned. To write a great book you need to know what the transformation or experience is that it will deliver for the reader. And that’s your compelling promise. When you keep that promise in mind, it helps you to easily figure out what belongs in your book and what would be fluff.
[Aside: Bigger is usually not better when it comes to how-to books – attention spans are short and it near-guarantees it won’t get finished.]
Holding out for the perfect title, before you start writing, is a brilliant way of giving in to procrastination. It means you get to duck out of dealing with Imposter Syndrome and your other subconscious excuses.
Of course, there are times when the perfect title finds you from nowhere and inspires the whole project. But if you spend your time waiting for that to happen, you’re going to have a long, slow journey to becoming an author.
By all means have a working title, so you don’t have to have dinner-table conversations along the lines of that-book-that-helps-empty-nester-mums-to-rent-out-their-spare-room-to-pay-the-university-fees. But if your focus is consistently on your book’s compelling promise, your dream readers will love it, whatever it is called.
Myth #2: You Have To Have An Author Website
Most publishers (or agents nowadays) won’t consider you unless you’ve already got ‘a platform’. What that means varies, but basically they want insurance on their investment – they expect you to shift a significant quantity of books via your own audience, not just their efforts.
Even if you go the self-publishing route, you’re still going to need to have a way to reach potential readers. Uncle Amazon doesn’t do it for you; at least, not for free.
But the need to have ‘the perfect author website’ is something I’ve seen block so many experts. It feels like such a big project that they never get started on their book.
Or maybe you’re shifting direction and you feel you need to majorly update your current site – or start a new one – before you can begin to write? Then the time and money taken up to achieve that can put your book off by a year – or more – emptying your copywriting reserves and leaving you exhausted and demoralised.
But here’s the thing:Non-fiction book myth #2: You need an author website, before you start writing. Fact: You don't. What you DO need is a compelling promise on a topic that people are hungry to read about, which fits with your expertise. It's the #authorsweetspot Click To Tweet
You don’t need a website, to start writing your book. What you do need is that compelling promise I talked about in myth #1 and a topic that people are hungry to read about, which fits with your expertise.
When I’m working with clients, I call this the ‘sweet spot‘.
The beauty of self-publishing is that you can grow your audience while you are writing, rather than having to get it to a certain level, before publishers will even open your emails. This is exactly what I teach my Masterminders to do in modules 1 and 2 of the From Expert To Author Mastermind.
You can build up a multi-thousand-person waiting list to buy your book using just social media and a landing page.
Yes, of course you can have a beautiful website to do that, too. But don’t ever let its absence get in the way of you taking action on your author dreams.
Myth #3: You Have To Have A Unique Idea
“But somebody already wrote a book on confidence! There’s no point in me writing another one!”
This lament is a hidden warning sign of our old friend: Imposter Syndrome.
“Who am I, to write that book?!”
It breaks my heart when an expert coach or mentor or consultant or designer or therapist or nutritionist or physical trainer or dentist or chiropractor or creator holds back from writing the book that is keeping them awake at 3am because they are scared it has been ‘done before’.
When I hit this barrier, I remind myself of silly examples to help me to get back my perspective:
- just because Ella Fitzgerald had a once-in-a-generation voice, it didn’t prevent other women from becoming jazz singers
- just because Stephen Hawkins was a genius, it didn’t stop others from researching maths and science at the highest levels
- did Michelle Obama refuse to publish her autobiography, because others had already published theirs?
- and just because Scooby Doo is my son’s favourite thing ever, it doesn’t stop him from also loving The Incredibles.
If your audience is hungry to learn about a topic that you know a lot about (i.e. you’ve hit the sweet spot) they will be open to reading more than one book about it.
Here’s my top advice on this myth:
Non-fiction book myth #3: You have to have a unique idea. Fact: Your idea doesn't have to be NEW, but it does have to be YOU. YOUR idea for YOUR tribe.Click To Tweet
Your idea doesn’t have to be new. It has to be you.
Your take for your tribe.
Of course, copying sucks. Just. Don’t. Go. There.
And, yes, unfortunately lots of people do. I had to do a literature review recently for a project I’m working on and of the twenty books I read, at least ten of them were nearly identical topics and commentary for the first 50 pages (and most of them only had 70 pages). I keep meaning to check Wikipedia on the topic…
Instead of drowning in the excuse-humouring worries about how it’s all been done before, start turning it around.
Focus your energy on:
- What will make my book different?
- What do I bring to the table that the other authors can’t?
- How can I get your book to stand out, even if the marketplace is crowded?
- What is missing from other books that my Tribe would be hungry to read?
If you want the step-by-step how-to for this (getting your book noticed is about more than just great PR and marketing), we cover that in Module One of my From Expert To Author Mastermind, including the top 5 questions you need to ask yourself, to make your book stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Myth #4: You Have To Have A Huge Audience
This one puts off so many experts – especially if you’re at the stage in your journey where you’re your industry’s best-kept secret and one of the reasons you want to write a book is to crank up your visibility.
You end up in a chicken-and-egg situation: I want to write a book to grow my audience, but I can’t sell the book to grow my audience unless I already have that audience.
It triggers procrastination paralysis.
As previously said, many agents and publishers will require you to have a large, engaged, established audience. But you don’t actually need one to start writing.
You can build your audience as you write your book.
Non-fiction book myth #4: You have to have a huge audience, before you write. Fact: you can grow your audience WHILE you write, if you have (1) expertise, (2) a hook and (3) a rock-solid plan. Click To Tweet
The three things you really need, before you write your book, are:
- A hook
- A rock-solid writing & launch plan
Having a huge audience does not guarantee your book will be a success or that it will grow your business. In fact, one of the most common mistakes I see experts making is writing the book that they want to read, or which they think their audience wants, which can damage their business, rather than growing it. It’s much better to research what your audience wants and to use this data to figure out what the hook needs to be.
A huge audience with the wrong book won’t lead to success.
A small, but engaged, audience with your expertise, a hook and a clear writing and publishing plan can create a buzz that makes your book a success, even if your initial Tribe is only 100 people.
Myth #5: You Have To Know How To Publish On Amazon
This is the most common question I get asked by would-be authors. They want to pick my brain on how to publish on Amazon, how to get their book on Kindle, how to get it formatted, how to get it to number one in its awkwardly obscure category on launch day.
I am oh-so-rarely asked the questions that really matter. My top advice on this myth is:
Focus on making your book brilliant first, and figure the tech out as you go along.
I wish that people would ask me about:
- how to create your compelling promise
- or how to get your book to stand out in a crowded marketplace (other than paid advertising) – hint: it’s something you decide before you even start writing
- or how, specifically, to get your book to grow your business, without feeling like a sleaze
- or how to make your book ‘unputdownable‘, even though it’s non-fiction
- or how to find the time to write it and juggle your work and your loved-ones and still have time to sleep
- or how to handle Imposter Syndrome and its friends, so you don’t secretly self-sabotage your launch
Often we focus on the tech because we think that writing our book is as easy as sitting at a laptop and pummelling the keyboard for 80,000 words. Hint: that’s the best way to write a rambling book that costs a fortune to edit and never quite delivers on its potential.
Or we use the tech to distract us from getting started – another Imposter Syndrome warning sign.
When you focus on making your book brilliant, you won’t want to waste your time on the tech side. You’ll be up for finding people who live and breathe it who can take that off your hands. Or you’ll find the right time for your learning curve, once you’re at the editing stage.
Tech is left-brained. Writing is right-brained. It’s really hard to do both at the same time. Tech-stress stifles creativity.
So focus on what you could do to make your book brilliant and leave the tech to those who love it.
I’d love to hear from you:
- Which of these myths resonate with you?
- Have you felt stuck by any of them?
- What other myths have you come across?
Let me know via the comments!
Want to know more about how to figure out your compelling promise, how to magnetise your tribe of hungry readers and how to make sure your world-changing, business-growing book is a success?
Make sure you join us for the FREE From Expert To Author Kickstart.
It’ll help you to crank up your confidence, pull together your publishing plan, and get you fired up and motivated to write that book!